Professional Jeweler Archive: Professional Manufacturing of Round & Oval Bezels for Cabochon Gemstones

February 2004

Professional Bench/Defining Quality

Professional Manufacturing of Round & Oval Bezels for Cabochon Gemstones

Knowing how to perform this task demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop

Bezels are one of the most accepted styles for setting cabochon-cut gemstones in fine jewelry. They are smooth, offer substantial security and blend nicely with most designs. This article discusses why and how to hand-make bezels for cabochon gems.

Premanufactured Bezels for Cabochons

Many bezel shapes are mass-produced and readily available. Here are examples of two common styles provided by manufacturers and suppliers of findings for fine jewelry.

Die-struck round bezel
Die-struck oval bezel

Rounds and ovals are common shapes for cabochon-cut gems. However, these gems may differ, introducing potential problems for the use of mass-produced bezels. In this case, handmade bezels are a solution.

Why Many Cabochon-Cut Gems Require Handmade Bezels

While standard bezels are readily available, bench jewelers often prefer to hand-make bezels to accommodate stones for three primary reasons:

1. Non-Standard Proportions
Many cabochon-cut gems have dimensions – length or width – that don’t conform to the sizes commonly available in premanufactured bezels. In this case, the bench jeweler has to custom-make a bezel or use a different setting style.

This is a non-standard-size gem and a standard bezel. The gem extends beyond the bezel, rendering the bezel unusable.

2. Differing Profiles
A bezel of standard height cannot accommodate cabochon-cut gems of all profiles. Here are examples of cabochon gems with the same outside measurements but with very different profiles:

Low-dome cabochon
Average-dome cabochon
High-dome cabochon

3. Unique Characteristics
Besides different proportions and profiles, many cabochons have phenomenal characteristics such as chatoyancy (cat’s eyes) or asterism (stars). These features can be lost when the gem is being cut, formed and finished to standard proportions. Consequently, they are almost never standard, are often crudely finished and can be rough on the bottom. These require handmade bezels.

Cat’s-eye gemstone has a rough bottom.
Star gemstone has a rough, angled, unfinished bottom.

Professionally Manufacturing Handmade Bezels

1. Determine the gems’ overall height, then select bezel material of an appropriate height and a thickness of at least 1mm (examples on the following page).

These illustrations show the importance of selecting material with the proper dimensions. A bezel that’s too short won’t secure the gem properly. One that’s too high will hide its overall beauty.
This is how a professionally made bezel fits. The top is high enough to secure the gem without being too high.
This one is too low.
This one is too high and literally buries the gem.

2. Select the proper material on which to seat the gem. In this case, the bench jeweler selected square wire that will provide a secure seat so the gem will not drop out of the bottom after it’s set.

3. Shape the metal to conform to the bottom of the gem around its outside perimeter. The bezel wire and the gem must fit snugly with no gaps when assembled.

4. Once the fit is accomplished, solder the bezel joint with hard solder.

5. Form the lower bezel wire. Obtain a precise fit between the two bezel wires. Solder them together with medium solder.

The bezel assembly will work for most applications. Once the bezel is assembled and soldered into the jewelry, it’s ready to be set. Next month, we’ll feature bezel-setting round and oval cabochon-cut gemstones.

– by Mark B. Mann

Illustrations by Lainie Mann
Visual Communications, LLC

Professionally Manufactured Bezels for Round or Oval Cabochon-Cut Gemstones

A. The bezel is the proper height to secure the gem without obscuring its beauty.
B. The bezel is made of substantial components, appropriate to the article of jewelry for which it’s made.
C. The bezel is of even thickness, symmetrical and finished consistently.
D. The bezel joint has no visible solder seams.

Potential Problems

The bezel is not symmetrical, its thickness is uneven and it’s poorly finished.
The bezel is too low for the gemstone, which will become dislodged and lost during normal wear.
The dimensions of this bezel and seat are too large for the gem it was made for. This gem eventually will loosen and fall out of the mounting.

For additional shop, service-department and bench-related content, visit

– by Mark B. Mann

Illustrations by Lainie Mann
Visual Communications, LLC

This series is sponsored in part by Jewelers of America, (800) 223-0673

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications